FDIC: Banks Are Going To Fail, But Don't Worry About Your Money

Sheila Blair, Chairman of the FDIC, wants to let you know that a few banks will probably fail during the current credit crisis, but you shouldn’t worry about your money because its insured up to $100,000 for a regular bank account and $250,000 for a self-directed retirement account (IRA).

Q: What if banks fail in the credit crisis? Will customer money be safe?

A: Banks are a safe place to put money, even if there are failures, because deposits are insured up to $100,000 and self-directed retirement accounts (IRAs) are insured up to $250,000. If you go to the FDIC website, there is a deposit insurance calculator on the site that people can use to make sure that their money is fully insured. The FDIC has a perfect track record on that score. I don’t make predictions, but based on the information we have more than 99% of all banks are well capitalized.

Q: How many small banks are in danger of failing?

A: There are 76 banks on the troubled-bank list, and most of those will be nursed back to health or be acquired by stronger institutions rather than fail. Plus, those 76 banks represent $22 billion in assets out of $13 trillion overall. That number could go up, but we would still be well within historical norms and far below the number we’ve seen in other troubled times. To put things in perspective, there were 1,500 banks on the troubled bank list in 1990.

She also offers some general banking advice:

Q: What are the most important questions to ask if you open a savings or checking account or CD?

A: Assuming your deposit is less than $100,000 and you’re fully insured, you want to ask about the interest rate you’ll get on your account. You want to know about absolutely all fees, including transaction fees and minimum balance penalties. You also need to be very careful about overdraft protection. Some customers routinely use it as a source of credit when they are short on money, and this is an expensive option. If you pay a $35 overdraft charge because you just went over your limit by $20, you’ve paid a very high interest rate on your loan.

Overdraft protection as credit? Noooooo.

US regulator: Your bank deposits are safe [Fortune](Thanks, Matthew!)